No Grandchildren

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT)
22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Any true understanding of the Good News has to include how to appropriate it to your life. For example, when you buy a car the sales person can tell you that your loan has been approved, and you can sign all of the necessary papers, but until you take the keys from the sales person’s hands, start the car, and drive away, you have accomplished nothing. It is the same with the Good News. The Good News is the most wonderful concept known to human kind, but until you accept it and apply it to your life it is just a concept and not reality. In describing the Good News Paul tells us that the way we do this is by “placing our faith in Christ Jesus.” If you were to ask most people on the street if they believed in Jesus Christ, the majority would says “yes.” However, what they mean is that they believed that there was a man who lived a long time ago named Jesus, and they may even believe that He was the Son of God. Unfortunately, that is not what Paul is talking about here. The faith that saves us in not “faith” in a general sense, but faith in a specific sense. It is not an intellectual understanding of who Christ is, but rather a personal trust in Christ to save you from your sins. It is accepting what Christ did for you on the cross and allowing that trust to make a difference in the way you live your life. One of my pet peeves is when people say, “We are all God’s children.” This concept is could not be further from the truth. We are all God’s creation, but we are not all God’s children. As the Apostle John wrote, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (Jn. 1:12, NLT). The Good News is only our good news when we accept it for ourselves. Remember, God has no grandchildren!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

The Problem With Being Good

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 3:9, 20 (NLT)

Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin…For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

In these two verses Paul shows us the fundamental reason for the Good News: that we are sinners and incapable of saving ourselves. People today want to live by the assumption that all they have to do is “be good” and that is all they need. However, the Scriptures make it clear that this is an impossibility at least when it comes to living up to God’s standards. In fact, Paul goes so far as to say to God never intended the law to be something we could live up to, but merely a guideline to show how sinful we are, and therefore, our need for God to save us. Notice what he says in verse 20, “The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” This flies in the face of popular opinion today, which believes that there are absolutely no absolutes (notice the intended contradiction). In other words, how can we tell people they are sinful when we no longer believe in sin? Once again the Bible is clear, there is sin and we are all controlled by it. Another problem that our society has today is the Biblical mandate of God’s judgment of sinners. We like to think of God merely as this kindly Grandfather in the sky that loves us, and as a result, would never condemn us to a horrible place like hell. Unfortunately, like the proverbial coin, there are two sides to God’s nature. Yes, He is a God of love, mercy, and grace, however, He is also a God of truth and justice. It is because of His justice that He must judge sin and sinners because if He didn’t He would no longer be just. This is the purpose of the Good News! We cannot save ourselves, but we have a God who is able and willing to save us if we are willing to accept His forgiveness and change our ways by turning to Him.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

 

A Proven Comodity

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 3:4 (NLT)
Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.”

God is faithful to what he has said in the past—his entire revelation—and his words warn of punishment for sin even as they promise reward for obedience (NLT Study Bible). One of the great truths of spiritual life is that we will all fail to live up to God’s righteous standards – we will all sin. This is an unfortunate after effect of the Fall, that we are prone to sin. No matter who you are or how spiritual you might be, we all sin. It doesn’t matter how hard we try we will all be unfaithful to God from time to time. The devil uses this against and tries to discourage us. Scripture refers to him as “the accuser of the brethren,” and he not only accuses us before God but he also accuses us to our face. However, here Paul answers for us a very important question, “if we sin does God give up on us?” The answer to that question is a resounding “NO!” In the previous verse he asks the question, “True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful?” In this verse he reminds us that even when we fall God never gives up on us. He reiterates this idea in one of his letters to his apprentice Timothy to whom he says, “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is” (2 Tim. 2:13, NLT). Another Apostle, John, tells us, “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous” (1 John 2:1). This tells us that not only does God not give up on us but Jesus himself pleads our case for us. Wow, what an awesome truth of the Good News. Does that mean it’s okay to sin? Of course not (as Paul will deal with later in Romans), but neither should we get discouraged and give up. God doesn’t give up us and neither should we give up on ourselves. Thank you Lord for not only forgiving my sins but also not giving up on me when I fail.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

 

Who’s the Boss

Greetings In the Name of the Lord

Romans 8:12-14 (NLT)
12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.
13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

Nobody likes to be told what to do. We like to think that we are all independent and do things are own way. However, the reality is that we all answer to somebody, somewhere, sometime. Yet we all have the choice as to whom we choose to answer to at any particular time. If we are at work, we can choose whether or not we are going to listen to our boss, but if we choose not to there will be consequences that we will have reproductions with which to deal. The same is true if you are a student. I had a Government teaching in High School, Mr. Cody, who used to say to his students, “If you don’t want to do your homework, don’t do it. However, if you don’t you lose. It will be North under the lights!” This was his way of saying you have to pass my class to graduate, and so you either do the work or you go to night school (which was held at North High School in those days). So you see we can choose to listen or not, but then we have to live with the consequences. The same is true in the spiritual realm. We have the choice everyday to live by our old nature which brings death, or live by the Spirit which brings life. Paul point is clear; we are no longer obligated to live according to the sinful nature. We have been freed from it by Jesus death and resurrection. Before we came to know Christ as Savior we where obligated to live by whatever our sinful nature told us, but now we are free to live by the Spirit. We can still choose to live by the sinful nature, but we will have to deal with the consequences, which is spiritual death. On the other hand, we now have a new option. As a result of what Christ has done for us we can now choose to live according the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The results of that choice are very different; choosing to live by the Spirit brings life. The choice is clear; we can choose the old nature and death, or the new life of the Spirit, which brings life. What will you choose?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

The Goal of the Good News: Transformation

Greetings in the name of the Lord:

Romans 2:29 (NLT)

No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.

The objective of the Good News is the transformation of the human heart. No New Testament writer talks more about transformation than Paul. The word transformation means “to change the essential form or nature of something” (Louw and Nidda, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Symantic Domains), and it is where we get the English word metamorphosis. Paul indicates here that the goal of the Good News is to transform a person through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. There are a lot of things that we can change. We can change our address, clothes, hair style, but only the Holy Spirit can change the human heart. Paul indicates that it is this transformation that enables us to obey God, and no amount of effort and determination can accomplish this task. At New Life our vision statement is “Transforming Lives, One At a Time,” because this is the goal of the Good News. One outward sign of this transformation is that we seek the praise of God and not the praise of people. When we stand before God on the judgment day it won’t matter what people think of us, but it will matter a great deal what God thinks of us. Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to transform you today?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark